My thanks go out to the lovely Noelle, representing publisher Bookouture, for securing me a spot on this ‘Books On Tour’ journey.
As ever, additional thanks go out to NetGalley, for their excellent download and review service.
THE STREET PARTY
All the neighbours were laughing, drinking out of plastic glasses and getting along. I almost felt happy. Almost forgot about the terrible argument earlier and the sinister messages I’d been receiving from a strange address all week, threatening to expose the lies behind my perfect life.
As we finished with the red and gold fireworks and welcomed everyone back to our house, I believed that everything would be okay.
But I didn’t know who I was inviting in.
I never could have imagined what would happen here, in our home, after I’d gone up to bed.
Everyone saw something different.
It’s my daughter’s word against the story the boy from down the road is telling. But how can I find out what really happened that night without everyone finding out the truth about me?
CLAIRE SEEBER – (photo credit Pippa Healy)
Born in London, of Austrian / English parentage, Claire earned a degree in Drama & English, before finding her niche behind, rather than in front of the camera. She has also written for stage and screen, being CWA Dagger-nominated.
She writes features for newspapers such as the Guardian and Independent, although it was only when she had her first baby in 2004, that she began writing psychological thrillers.
The Observer called Claire’s first novel, Lullaby, ‘a disturbing debut’, whilst the Guardian called it ‘powerful’.
Her third thriller Never Tell became a bestseller, and she has since been published in more than twelve different languages, with more than six bestsellers to her name.
Claire now also practices as a fully qualified Gestalt therapist and enjoys the privilege of working with clients.
Today, she still lives in London, with her partner, brood of children, and pets, although she dreams of living by the sea.
Catch up with all Claire’s latest news at her website
Follow Claire on Twitter
Connect with Claire on Facebook
RUBY – SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER
“Afterwards. I kept thinking, if only I hadn’t fallen asleep when I’d got home, things would have been completely different. If I hadn’t been so daft, so tired, so naive. He would have been OK. It was always afterwards when things made more sense, by which time it was also always too late. I should never, ever have left him alone at the Jacksons”
“The hardest lesson I’d learnt over the past two years: grief doesn’t stop the world turning, even when it feels like it should have stopped dead”
“My perfect life was so far from perfect, every ounce of energy spent making it look like this, plastering up the facade. But slowly, below it, I was cracking, like the glaze on an old jar”
“I left my son there. Our lives were turning on their heads, as if in slow motion – as if we were the first astronauts freewheeling on the moon. As if there was still time to stop the chain of events happening, reel it in safely. Except there wasn’t”
“You’d do as well to remember life isn’t just about wealth”
“With love comes pain”
“One night. Three Families. Who is lying?”
Oh Yes! This one definitely ticks all the right boxes for me, as an outstanding domestic psychological thriller. No pot-boiling suspense, but a definite slow-burning story about contemporary, no holds barred, family life, in an area of London where the “haves” and the “have nots” are forced to live cheek by jowl, but definitely not always harmoniously!
A story told in the first person by three individual voices, with a couple of rather noisome interjections by a ‘yummy mummy blogger/vlogger’, who has to be the most annoying character in the story. With the storyline being very much rooted in the here and now, there is no complicated timeline to follow and with some well signposted, seamless, short chapters, I always felt on top of the action, if not the individual events, and never having to play catch-up!
From the word ‘go’, I had plenty of bad vibes about where things were heading, however author Claire Seeber, clearly knew how she ultimately wanted to lead me on this journey and she did so with great confidence, skill and total authority, although offering me little comfort or ease along the way. This well structured, multi-layered story, was textured and desperately intense, with an almost palpable and claustrophobic tension which filled the air from the very first sentence, to the very last word. There were so many twists and turns along the way, just ready to trip up the unsuspecting bystander and take them in the wrong direction, although I found that it began to make very little difference to me, as everyone seemed to be guilty of something, leaving me with very little sympathy for just about any of the characters, with the exception of Ruby, Zach and maybe poor Cici. There were times when I just wanted to throw my hands in the air, close the book and walk away from the constant anxt and misery this small and insular group of people had created for themselves. However I really needed to know why this clique of nouveau riche had chosen to open their doors to their rather ‘inferior’ neighbours, as it most certainly wasn’t going to have been for any altruistic reasons, despite their false protestations to the contrary.
With some really well detailed and observationally nuanced narrative, alongside dialogue which was often brutally honest, insensitively harmful and sometimes downright dangerous, the trio of female narrators, Nella, Ruby and Melissa, were allowed their own voices in this unfolding lugubrious melodrama, although never quite in equal share, or with any real authority over the situation. One voice belonging to this class fuelled neighbourhood and who considers herself to be queen of all she surveys; one who is most definitely from the other side of the divide, unsure of why she has been invited into unknown territory and almost frightened that she isn’t going to show herself in a good light, or act in the right way; whilst the third voice is in neither one camp nor the other, aspiring to one, but unable to stop clinging on to the other as a ‘safe’ lifeline. I know which I would consider to be in the most precarious position!
This storyline highlights so clearly the fragility and strengths of family and friendships, morals and values, and the unforgiving nature of jealousy and judgement. In an emotionally draining and soul destroying community, where facade is everything, yet everyone has their dirty little secrets and something to hide, suspicion passes from one character to another as the plot unfolds and the veneer of respectability is peeled back, laying bare the inherent greed, perceived entitlement to wealth, and elitism, lurking just beneath the surface. The tenet that family takes a back seat to prestige and self-advancement, unless of course the former can help achieve the latter is so sad to see, as is the huge influence which is attached to brand names and the power of social media.
If anything, there might have been too many of the social scandals attached to a modern society crammed into such a short timeframe and such a small, insular group of people – drugs, self-harm, sexting, bullying, racism, childhood mental illness, domestic abuse – and that’s just the tip of this massive iceberg. So many lies and secrets, so much duplicitous, vengeful and deceitful behaviour, so much spite and anger. So much hate… And at the end of it all, that final revelation, from a person I already had high on my list, but by no means at the top, about the motive behind this entire debacle, which caused so much grief and heartache to the many broken people they left in their wake.
Our three narrators are female and whilst the story very much holds true to the tenet that “the female of the species is more deadly than the male”, there is also a sprawling cast of additional characters, both female and male, who give these ladies a run for their money. Whilst they are all well developed and defined, unwholesomely complex and emotionally lacking, never genuine or believable, and most certainly not easy to relate to – not that I would have wanted to connect with them anyway!
More succinctly perhaps, I might finally observe: “never mistake supposed class for true character, or perceived wealth for genuine happiness”
A complimentary kindle download of this book for review, was made available by the publisher and supplied by NetGalley.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!